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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Prices Fall Again
by Tom Moeller  May 1, 2012

For drivers of motor vehicles, fuel prices are finally providing some relief. The pump price of regular gasoline fell four cents last week to $3.83 per gallon, down for the fourth straight week. Haver Analytics' seasonally-adjusted price for regular fell six cents to $3.70 per gallon, the fifth consecutive week down. Yesterday, the wholesale price for a gallon of unleaded was $3.12 versus $3.16 averaged last week.

Reduced driving and improved fuel economy lowered the demand for gasoline by 4.2% y/y last week. The demand for residual fuel oil demand, used for heating, fell 10.2% y/y but distillate demand inched up 0.1% y/y. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products ticked up 0.2% year-to-year. That comparison was improved versus the 5.0% decline this past fall.

The price for a barrel of light sweet crude oil rose last week to $103.97 and remained up sharply versus the low of $79.71 this past October. Yesterday, the cost of crude rose further to $104.87 per barrel. Prices peaked at $113.93 last April. Brent crude increased last week to $117.89 per barrel and rose further to $119.08 yesterday.

Natural gas prices rebounded last week to $2.00 per mmbtu but were still down 54.5% y/y. Yesterday, prices inched up further to $2.11 but remained off from the early-January 2010 peak of $6.50.

The energy price data are reported by the U.S. Department of Energy and can be found in Haver's WEEKLY database. The daily figures are in DAILY and the gasoline demand figures are in OILWKLY.

Weekly Price 04/30/12 04/23/12 04/16/12 Y/Y% 2011 2010 2009
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.83 3.87 3.92 -3.4 3.52 2.78 2.35
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl.) 103.97 103.02 102.53 -7.9 95.14 79.51 61.39
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 2.00 1.86 1.93 -54.5 3.99 4.40 3.95
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